A house of worship is supposed to be a welcoming place where all feel safe. But who is
responsible for creating that atmosphere? Certainly, the rabbi, pastor, imam or other religious
leader plays a big part in that process, as well as the staff member or volunteer in charge of
property management. But safety and risk management are much bigger than one or two
people—the entire congregation must be on board if you hope to build such a culture.
Of course, you can’t just create a culture overnight. But you can take steps to help your
congregation become the type of place where everyone cares about risk management.
- Make risk management a regular topic in staff and volunteer meetings. All staff
members and volunteers should keep an eye out for problem areas. For example, if the
secretary notices a crack in the sidewalk, he or she should immediately send a note to the
person in charge of facilities. If the music leader frequently sees unattended children
running around the building, he or she should talk to their parents and try to brainstorm a
solution to the continuing problem with other staff members.
- Consider addressing the topic frequently in communications with your
congregation. The best way to encourage people to keep their eyes open is by making
safety a part of your regular routine. You could introduce a “risk management topic of the
month” in your newsletter. Or, include a brief call to action in announcements before or
after a worship service.
- Understand that little changes can lead to big gains. Risk management is not just
about locking your building to deter theft and watching for leaks in your roof. It’s also
about noticing when your parking lot lights have dimmed, changing the oil regularly on
your congregation’s vehicles, establishing a culture of respect among your congregation’s
children and keeping the lines of communication open among staff and volunteers. As
this resource shows, there are many small steps you can take that lead to a more secure
- Create a volunteer team that takes the lead on keeping risk management and safety
“front of mind” for all members of your congregation. A group of people can
accomplish much more than one or two staff members who are trying to keep an eye on
every possible safety concern. You can direct this team to be the official
“observers”—noticing issues that others might overlook. Learn more about volunteer
ambassadors in this resource.
Creating a culture of risk management and safety may seem overwhelming at first. But even if
you can implement just one of the above changes, you’re taking a big step toward making your
house of worship a safer place.
The information contained in these materials is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on these materials. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in these materials.